Pain twisted my stomach as the blackness slipped away with the smell of fat and blood. My stiff muscles cried in protest as I stretched them away. My mind grumbled that it wanted to stay asleep, but the loud gurgling filled the room, and I couldn ignore it anymore.
I opened my eyes and found a pleasant yellow glow bathing the world. I let out a little purr of pleasure at the heat thawing my nose. I slowly sat up and the cold quickly returned to attack my body. I shuttered and quickly reached for my covering. Not ready to face that cold again.
My eyes wandered to the fire then the slab of stone with a slab of meat on it. With my stomach whining I scrambled over to it, scooping it into my hands and clawing apart chunks of meat. The first tickle of fat on my tongue had me scooping out another hunk of meat. Vaguely aware that I needed to be cautious of bones.
It wasn until the third bite that I became aware of the heavy gaze watching my every move. I shifted around so I could meet those yellow eyes that watched me like a predator. The wolf was lying on the other side of the fire from me.
”Um? ” I found myself asking while holding out the ruined carcass of the fish. The wolf eyed it for a moment before snorting and turning his head away. I watched as he tucked his head low and curled more tightly into himself.
He was cold.
With one hand around the fish, and the other gripping the covering I shuffled my way around the fire and onto his side of the small cave. Once settled I picked up one side and threw it over the wolf as well. Once he was covered as well I plucked a chunk of meat from the fish and set it on the ground near his nose.
The wolf let out a low growl and stood up. He shook the blanket off and prowled to the other side of the fire. He laid down again, this time with its back towards me.
Saddened, I finished the fish in front of me, and threw the scraps into the fire. With my stomach finally sated my eyes began to droop. Pulling my knees to my chest and resting my cheek on top I watched as the fire danced as it burned. Luckily it was here, or we would have frozen to death.
I pulled the blanket tighter as the memory of the icy wind taunted my muscles.
Alarm bells started ringing in my mind. They were telling me that something wasn right. Something wasn what it seemed. To look a little closer.
We sat in a cave, the walls slick as ice and the ground gray stone. The fire was small as was the pit, there was a stack of wood by the entrance. The wolf rested on one side and I sat on the other.
My fingers played with the soft fur of the blanket as I tried to find the missing link. As I tried to figure out what was wrong with this picture.
How had I even gotten here?
The question startled my mind out of its sleep heavy fog. The last thing I could recall was trying to scramble up Icy hillsides. Following the tracks of a wolf.
My eyes shifted back to that very wolf.
The wolf had fed me.
The wolf saved me from the ice.
The wolf brought me to shelter.
”Why? ” The word was heavy in my throat, and awkward on my tongue. The wolfs ears perked up at the rasping word, but he didn show any other signs of
I hadn managed to make it to this cave, so how was I here? I was small in build, and was lacking in both fat and muscles. I was light, in human standards, but I was definitely too heavy for a wolf.
How was there a fire blazing in the middle of a frozen wasteland.
There was something coarse irritating the skin on my left arm, and when I looked down I found a bit of hide wrapped around it. It looked like some awkwardly long sleeve, and was painfully out of place compared to my bare skin.
”Cloth…es? ” I forced the word out past my uncooperative throat.
The wolf turned his head, gazing somewhere to my left. I studied his wise and intent gaze for a moment before shifting to find the neat little stack of clothes.
Something warm and tingling shot down my spine. While my stomach twisted and wrung with dread. This creature wasn what it was pretending to be.
”Ou. ” I ordered it, though it lost its harsh edge when a wheezing breath ended the word prematurely.
The wolfs head tilted and his yellow eyes studied me closely.
”Get out. ” I said again, this time speaking slowly and clearly.
His ears folded back and his lips shifted into a snarl. He clearly didn agree with my assessment of the situation. I rolled my eyes and reached for the clothes. I showed them to him pointedly before pointing to the door.
The wolf let out a grow.
Hair standing up on its ends, and bones clacking together, I managed to glare him down. I pointed towards the door again.
I waited as he sized me up. Eyed the clothes, the blanket, and if I wasn mistaken my arm.
A thought occurred to me then, and I found myself more uncomfortable. I quickly tucked my arm out of sight from the beast. His gaze rose to meet mine and we stayed like that for a moment.
Finally he let out a loud huff and shifted to his feet.
Though he didn head for the mouth of the cave like I thought he would. Instead he padded over to where I sat and pushed his nose against the fur. He took in several long deep breaths before moving his snout from my arm to my ear.
His nose was cold and wet. Quickly turning away I raised my arm up as some feeble shield against the cold. The wolf growled at the movement nipping at the fur covering. I yelped at the sudden attack and scrambled back. Needless to say I didn get far, and the wolf took advantage of the opening I had just made. His cold nose pressed firmly to my ear as he huffed in two long breaths.
He hesitated for a moment, as if he was thinking.
Slowly he stepped away, moving to the cave opening, but he didn go out. Instead he sat down on his haunches and stared out at the winter wonderland.
Apparently that was as much privacy as he was willing to give me. There wasn much more I could ask for, I supposed. Figuring there must be a time limit to our arrangement I quickly got to work trying to figure out the best way to get dressed.
It should have been a simple task, but it was made almost impossible by the mummification of one of my hands.
It became a war of will as I tried to single handedly pull on my pants. Never had I hated anyone more in my entire life, than I did in that moment. Whoever thought that skinny jeans was a good idea had clearly never broken their arm before. As it was, I had to carefully inch them on one leg at a time. All while the heavy presents of the wolf ate at my nerves.
I had thought that my troubles would be over once I managed to get my pants back on. Unfortunately I was too narrow minded. The next problem came when I tried to push my wrapped up arm through the sleeve of my shirt. The material hadn been made to stretch and so I couldn force my arm through.
My attempts to unwrap the leather bounds failed dismally, my cold fingers were unable to move efficiently.
Sure now, I kept the wolf in my view as I tugged the shirt on over one arm and struggled into the coat. Once covered I cleared my throat and got to work on rolling up the fur blanket.
As I did so the wolf covered the fire in snow until the ashes didn even smother.
Not a wolf.
That fact was becoming painfully clear the longer I was around it.
What it was, I wasn completely sure, though I had heard rumors and ghost stories about beasts that appeared to be like humans. But this creature looked nothing like a man. You couldn even compare it to a dog. The closest comparison to make was that of a wolf.
But it had to have opposable thumbs to tie such a sturdy knot.
The sudden bark had me startled, and the blanket I had rolled up dropped to the ground and unrolled.
”What? ” I demanded of the creature meeting his yellow glare. He shifted his head to gaze out the cave for a moment before looking back at me and barking once more.
”Coming. ” I responded to him bending down to scoop up the blanket again.
He was out of the cave by the time I stood back up. I followed after him, trying to remember that he wouldn have cared for me if he had planned to simply leave me behind. Still I feared that if I didn move quickly enough he would leave me behind to die. A somewhat foolish thought.
At least thats what I told myself.
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